Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean. With miles of beautiful beaches and a warm, tropical climate the best time to visit is from December to May, when you can expect dry, sunny days and plenty of blue skies.
On the island you can wander the bustling city streets of the capital, Havana, go hiking in the mountains, learn about the history of tobacco, or simply soak up the country’s 1950’s time-warp appeal. Here are just a few more ideas on why you should visit Cuba.
Cuba boasts over 300 stunning beaches, each offering idyllic stretches of powdery, white sands, swaying palm trees, lapped by the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean. Some of the best beaches include Playa Los Flamencos on the island of Cayo Coco, Player Pilar in Cayo Guillermo and Playa Ancón on Cuba’s south coast.
A visit to Havana, the capital of the island, is a must on a trip to Cuba. Havana Viejo (Old Havana) is the historic city centre and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. The city is full of beautiful old architecture, interesting people, and of course all those incredible classic cars. Going for a walk along El Malecon is one of the unmissable things to do in Havana. This 8 km paved road connects the outside of the old city with the residential neighbourhood of Vedado. If you’re interested in the history of Cuba, right behind the Malecon you will see signs that point towards the tunnels where the missiles set up and aimed at the US were kept during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
There are brightly coloured buildings everywhere in Cuba. With influences ranging from French neoclassical and Art Deco to Spanish Moorish and Colonial Baroque, Cuba’s architecture never fails to surprise and delight. Painted in vibrant, pastel hues and tropical, Mediterranean shades, they provide endless photo opportunities.
Music & Dance
Cubans love their music, it’s the heart and soul of the island and seems to come out of every corner. Soulful Spanish melodies, Afro-Cuban Jazz (also known as Cubop), Mambo and Salsa are the most recognised musical styles and many hotels and restaurants offer live performances by very talented musicians. The same sense of rhythm that fuels Cubans’ love for music, makes of them very good and very passionate dancers. Salsa dancing (called ‘Casino’ in Cuba) is the most popular dance style, however you can also learn other traditional and contemporary Cuban dances such as Rumba, Cha Cha Cha, and Regueton.
One of the nicest cities in Cuba is Trinidad. A gorgeous Spanish colonial city founded in 1514 and today a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s a maze of cobbled alleys, colonial museums and fabulous restaurants. Full of music and people meeting in the squares to dance, drink and have a good time. Adding to this there are a handful of gorgeous beaches nearby, and a few hiking trails within easy reach.
One of the things Cuba is most famous for are the vintage cars. They are everywhere! Some of these cars are incredibly well kept and perfectly restored, others are falling apart, but in a country where nothing goes to waste, they keep being fixed and they keep running. They also provide more great photo opportunities.
It’s hard to think of Cuba without its famous cigars springing to mind. Famed throughout the world for their quality, Cuban Cigars are just something you have to try in Cuba, whether you’re a smoker or not! One of Havana’s oldest and most famous cigar factories, Real Fábrica de Tabacos Partagás, is one of the places to visit if you want to learn a bit more about how cigars are made, and to buy a few that you can carry home with you.
Ernest Hemingway’s House
If you’re a fan of American novelist Ernest Hemingway, then this is a must! In 1940, Hemingway bought the Finca la Vigía, a villa on a hill in San Francisco de Paula, 15km southeast of Havana, where he lived for 20 years. When he left for the US in 1960 soon after the Castro revolution, he donated his house to the Cuban people. It is now a museum and almost unchanged since the day he left.